Matt McCoy and Loop Community

This week on UE University we got a chance to chew the fat with Matt McCoy of Loop Community. Loop Community is the premiere resource for loops, multitracks and sounds for worship. It also is a phenomenal storehouse of tutorials and training for live performance for houses of worship. The community is exceptionally vibrant as well.   

Hi Matt, Tell us a little about your background.

I was born and raised in San Diego, California as a pastor’s kid. My mom and dad were both musicians who played guitar and piano. I grew up surrounded by music, specifically in church. I’ve been singing since I could make noise and started playing guitar when I was in 6th grade. Since high school I’ve been on staff at churches, writing music and performing live with my band. We travel all over the country playing at churches, youth camps, conferences and other faith-based events. I moved to Chicago 6 years ago to be on staff at Willow Creek Community Church, and am currently at Harvest Bible Chapel. I love writing songs, recording and traveling with my band. By the way, my preferred in ear monitors have always been Ultimate Ears UE-7s. When I’m not doing that, I’m running a website called LoopCommunity - which is a music distribution platform for multitracks and loops.

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How did Loop Community come about?

I’ve been using loops, multitracks and Ableton in live performance since 2003. It’s incredible how much technology can enhance a live bands sound and live performance. One of the main reasons people don’t utilize technology in performance is because they are intimidated by it, or worried about the learning curve that may come with it. My passion and goal is to break down the barriers for people (specifically church music directors) and make it simple to use tracks in live performance. For a long time, there wasn’t an easy way to find multitracks for songs. Back in the day you had to scrounge around internet forums, search blogs, or phone-a-friend to MAYBE find the track you’re looking for. Most people would make their own, using software like Reason or Ableton Live. A few years ago, I got tired of searching everywhere for tracks and decided to build a website where musicians could upload and sell the tracks they make. Loop Community is a community of musicians who make tracks for songs and share them with others. If you don’t know how to make tracks, you can go to Loop Community and buy them. If you know how to make tracks, you can sell your tracks on Loop Community.

How has Loop Community grown over the years?

It’s been really cool to see Loop Community expand. The special thing about the site is that it’s not just an e-commerce website, like so many other web stores. We’ve worked really hard to create a community. We offer free training webinars, an entire Loop University, 1-1 personal training, an interactive community forum called Blocks, comments feeds, profiles, etc. The people who are a part of LC (Loop Community) are proud to be a part. There is a sense of ownership. They feel like they are really making a difference for other churches and music directors… and they are. Literally around the world. Loop Community has only been around for a few years, and in that short time frame we’ve grown leaps and bounds over any competitor. I think it’s mainly because we are a community… not just a stale web-store throwing products at you. It’s the people on our site that mater and make up who LC is.

Loop Community looks to be a extremely active community, how did you get the word out?

The word has gotten out mainly by word of mouth. Our contributors and community members are our biggest advocates and help us spread the word.

Your song catalog is very impressive. Can you explain the different products you carry?

Our main product is what we call CommunityTracks. These are tracks that anyone can upload. If you created a backing track for a song, you can upload it to the site and sell it. We also can distribute the original session file from Reason, Logic, or Ableton. All of the songs on our website are properly licensed from the music publishers. We take care of this on behalf of our users. Another product we carry is called MasterTracks. These are the original tracks from a record label or artist recording. For example, we carry the original studio tracks for all of Phil Wickham’s studio recordings. We work closely with artists and labels in distributing and promoting their projects. We also have a product called SoundPark. This is a section of our site where users can upload and share software instrument patches, presets, samples and sounds for their favorite music software.

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You also have a foot controller and app - tell us about those.

Earlier this year we launched a USB MIDI Foot Controller called Looptimus. Looptimus is the easiest foot controller for running tracks in a live performance. It’s plug and play - no software or programming needed. You can use it with any music software, like Ableton Live or MainStage, to control your multitracks and loops. Last year, we also launched a free iOS app called “Prime”. If you’re just getting started in using tracks in your live performance, Prime is a great way to begin. It’s very user-friendly and easy to set up. You can create a setlist and playback all of your tracks. You can also use it as a metronome for your band.

It looks like one can upload their music productions as well as receive training. Can you tell us a little more about your vision for future enhancements / programs?

We offer a variety of training. You can check out LoopUniversity and watch a ton of free videos on how to get started in using multitracks in your live performance. We also have a full team of certified trainers that can give you 1-1 training via Skype screen share. On our YouTube channel (loopcommunity2), we offer free live webinars every week about various topics. If you’d like to contribute your tracks to Loop Community, we make it easy. Just click the “Upload” button at the top of our website and submit your tracks. We want everyone to be involved, no matter what musical background or genre you belong.  

Check out Prime iPad / iPhone App for MultiTracks at http://loopcommunity.com/prime

Check out the Looptimus foot controller at http://looptimus.com

Follow Matt on twitter: @mattmccoy  or @loopcommunity

Listen to Matt’s music at http://mattmccoymusic.com

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

UE Pros - Lost and Found

Your UE PROs are a big investment. They are also unique to you, no one else can wear them. So what happens if you lose them?

Well my friend you are in luck. On every case is a reward tag that looks like this:

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The Reward Tag program is an “insurance plan” we’ve put in place to benefit you.

If the person who  finds your lost  UE PROs goes to rewartag.com/ue and enters your ID number not only  will you get your cherished UE Pros back, but they will receive an award from UE for returning them. So it’s a win win for everyone.  

Now call me over cautious, but I like to add a little extra to my insurance plan.  Here’s a tip.

I have this taped on the back of my case.  You could always just use a business card. But I feel much better letting people know that these are for me and me only.

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So there you have it. UE has you covered in case you misplace your UE Pros. And as a little extra assurance you can add your own info to the bottom of your case. If you have any other cool ways to protect your investment we would LOVE to hear them!

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

Dealer Profile - Thinking Group

The first subject in our dealer profile series is Thinking Group. Thinking Group are well known for their excellent customer service ( Just check them out on Head-fi.org) and forward thinking product line. They have cultivated an active forum for customer Q&A, product assistance and general discussions, which is really cool. 


Can you tell us a little bit about the company?
Thinking Group Limited was established in 1998 with headquarters in Hong Kong and branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Taiwan, Singapore and Guangzhou. By having close relationships with worldwide manufacturers & world-class brands, Thinking Group’s sales network now covers Hong Kong, China, Asia Pacific, South East Asia and Middle East. The company’s mission is to constantly develop sales networks in order to penetrate good products to every corner of Asia by providing excellent service and support to our distributors, resellers, retailers as well as consumers. 

Can you tell us a bit about what you offer?
The main product lines of Thinking Group are Professional Ear Monitors, Universal Earphones, Multimedia Speakers, iPod Accessories, Portable Scanners, Computer Input Devices, etc. Besides that we are the sole distributor of world-class brands, including Airocide, Comply, Denon, ETYMOTIC, Geneva Lab,  harman kardon, Jawbone, JBL, Logitech, ODOYO, PHILIPS, SMS Audio, Swissvoice, ULTIMATE EARS, Westone, etc. We look forward to serving you in the near future. If you have any questions or enquiries concerning any of our products, please feel free to contact us.

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Where you are located?
Thinking Group Limited

Hong Kong Headquarters: 
Rm 1103, 11/F., Join-in Hang Sing Centre, 
2-16 Kwai Fung Crescent, Kwai Chung, NT.

Tel: (852) 2955-1000
Fax: (852) 2955-1130

Email:  info@ThinkingGroup.com

Office Hours: Monday to Friday  (9:00a.m. - 1:00p.m.)(2:00p.m. - 6:00p.m.) Saturday (9:00a.m.- 1:00p.m.)

Website www.ThinkingGroup.com 

Taiwan Branch:

Address 7F., No.150, Fuxing N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 10487, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Tel (886) 2-8712-3118
Fax (886) 2-8712-2232

Email marketing@thinkinggroup.com
Website www.ThinkingGroup.com.tw


you can also find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TG.Singapore

We sat down with Thomas Müeller of Acoustix & Don’t Lose the Music in New Zealand and had a very indepth chat about SPL (sound pressure level) reduction in regards to  UE PROs and how that pertained to drummers specifically. First let me give you a little background.

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Thomas established Acoustix Hearing Technologies in 2004 and from there has used his expertise to setup ‘Don’t Lose The Music’ an initiative to encourage use of good quality hearing protection for musicians, audio engineers, VJs, DJs and those who enjoy live music or club-going.

Hi Thomas, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I help people who are challenged with their hearing; I understand the technology that is necessary to provide solutions to ensure that they can hear clearly in all sorts of listening environments.

I support and assist musicians, sound engineers and audiophiles in their quest for hearing their perfect sound quality, especially for optimum performance on-stage and off-stage.  It is better to prevent and protect than to aid after, as there is no cure for premature permanent hearing loss. 

For those are are new to IMEs, In your opinion what are some of the advantages to investing in a pair of custom in-ear monitors versus a generic in ear solution?

Every musician’s ears and ear canals are shaped and sized differently. Advantages that custom In-ears offer over generic In-ears are easy insertion, ease-of-fit, significant noise isolation, and consistent hearing of your own mix because of the exact positioning in your ears every time you wear them. They take away the frustration on stage of not being able to hear properly because generic In-ears are not fitting your ears properly and end up becoming a distraction instead. Cables on custom In-ears are generally replaceable too, as opposed to cables of generic IEMs available on the market.

What was the trigger in starting your research into IEMs and Noise Reduction?

For several years, I have been supplying and fitting musicians with custom ER-Musician hearing protection and/or custom Ultimate Ears In-ear-monitors to help protect and preserve their hearing critical to their career.

One of my musicians, a drummer whom I supplied with custom Ultimate Ears, wondered if the stated level of noise isolation provided was correct.

As all musicians I work with express concern about preserving their hearing as best as possible, and while there is trust in the products I supply, I am looking for efficient and effective methods to verify that these products do indeed deliver the level of attenuation or noise isolation as stated by the manufacturers.

Can you tell us some of the things you discovered?

I have discovered - in my case study with the drummer mentioned above - that his Ultimate Ears do provide 25dB noise isolation across the frequency range of traditional hearing testing from 125Hz – 8000Hz.

So I guess it’s obvious … but things are very loud behind the kit. What would an ideal SPL be?

Noise-induced hearing loss is the deafness that occurs when the ears are exposed to sound decibels in excess of what they can handle.

New Zealand’s national standard for occupational noise exposure is an eight-hour equivalent continuous sound pressure level of 85dB(A) which would be ideal but often is not the case behind a drum kit. Drum kits are significantly louder with 90 -100db considered on the quieter side. 

In terms of SPL reduction especially in terms of drummers what are some potential solutions you have though of?

Drummers who are conscious of their hearing tend to start off with wearing foam plugs, which is a starting point for hearing conservation, which is better than not wearing any protection at all.  It is a primitive solution because the density of the foam plug’s material muffles and compromises the audibility and clarity of the music. 

The next, most basic solution is using Etymotic Research’s ER-20; these are affordable and offer better (than foam plugs) hearing protection whilst maintaining the audibility and clarity of  music much better than foam plugs do.

The solution for a beginner is getting a pair of custom moulded ER-Musician hearing protection, either with 25dB or 15dB attenuation, depending on the music genre. They are obviously pricier, but well worth it as their attenuation characteristics are flatter and an improvement over the ER20’s attenuation.

The advanced potential solution is a set of generic In-ears, which provide noise isolation and better hearing of click-track on stage behind the drum kit.

The professional solution is to invest and acquire a set of custom (Ultimate Ears) In-ear-monitors.

However, I have been informed by drummers that where db levels become excessively loud for them behind the drum kit, especially with various genres of heavy metal music, Peltor headphones (cans) are worn over the top of their In-ears for additional attenuation and better audibility of click-track which has to compete in that environment. 

How can we help people understand how severe the potential threat to a drummers hearing is? Do you see the potential evenly across the drum world i.e.(studio musicians vs. live sound, amateur vs. professional) How can we encourage more people to take better care of their ears

I see the potential evenly across the drummers’ world because there is always the risk and potential of unintentional or accidental damage to a drummer’s ears, whether this takes place in the studio or on stage. I think that raising awareness and education is a positive means of encouraging more people to take better care of their ears; I am certain that they would love to spend quality time with - and be able to hear - their future children or grandchildren later in life.

This is all really fascinating and very useful information. I love what you are doing on http://dontlosethemusic.co.nz do you have a presence in other places i.e. social media or web forums where people can contact you?

I would love to connect with more musicians, especially those based in New Zealand and Australia, and I’m happy to provide further information to anyone who is interested in this research.   I also plan to publish material on related topics in future so feel free to follow me on Twitter (@dontlosemusic) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/dontlosemusic).

Again thank you for taking the time to sit with us and say a word or two about your research.

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

Interview with Bandzoogle CEO David Dufresne

Gone are the days of hand coded websites. The rise of Wordpress and  other platforms like WIX and Squarespace have made it easier than ever to create and update your site. The trouble is while many of the options out there are suitable for most needs, they are not usually ideal for musicians. If this is something that you have encountered you should take a look at Bandzoogle.  

Bandzoogle is a website platform designed with the working musician in mind. It was started in 2001 and has since grown to well over 20,000 users, from small DIY bands to some names you’re sure to be familiar with. One of the most amazing features of Bandzoogle is the community of users. Need advice about touring? Looking for a new axe? Trying to find a good T-Shirt printer? All these things and much more can be found in the forums. UE University was lucky enough to get CEO David Dufresne to sit down and answer some questions for us.  

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Hi David, Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. When did you start Bandzoogle?

My partner Chris Vinson (our CTO) actually started Bandzoogle almost ten years ago. The short version of that story is that Chris used to play bass in a Montreal grunge band named Rubberman, and in the late 90s the website he had built for the band helped them get signed to a Canadian major label. After an album, touring and a glimpse of the rock star life, the band parted ways, and the label hired Chris as webmaster for all of their artists. Chris built a console so that managers and bands could update their own websites with new tracks, photos and tour dates. When a lot of his musician buddies started asking if they could use that tool for their own indie bands, Chris has the idea for the startup.

He launched Bandzoogle on his own, with no staff and only a small loan from his old boss and the company has grown independently and organically since then, with no venture capital or major corporate partners. I joined as CEO in 2010 to help build the business and expand our reach. So 10 years in, we have thousands of bands and musicians as customers and a team of about 15 dedicated employees, almost all of them musicians, singers, or (in my case) huge music geeks. And we remain 100% independent and focused on our users and our product.

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above: Chris Vinson (l.) and David Dufresne(r.)


There aren’t too many web platforms that are music focused. Can you let us in a little on your thought process as to how you develop features?

Our users are our R&D department. We get requests and suggestions from them multiple times a day, and when we see a popular request we add it to our roadmap. We also keep tabs on our competitors, to make sure our design tools remain both easy and powerful, and to make sure we dominate the market when it comes to music-focused features and customer support.

How many artists currently use the platform? 

We have well over 20,000 customers, and a few thousand users that are on a free trial period.

Are these independent artists and labels, majors or a mixture of both?

The majority are DIY, 100% independent bands, but we’re seeing more and more indie labels, management companies, and their artists sign up for the platform. We also have many cult status bands and legendary musicians that used to be on major labels, but have regained their independence and now use our platform for their website, mailing list and direct-to-fan sales. 

Sadly, we are too affordable for major labels and the biggest indies ;-) They insist on spending thousands of dollars on web design, and we’re only $20/month for the Pro level. The websites they end up building are usually all fashion, and no function.
 
How have you adapted to new web technologies such as mobile and responsive design?

We adapted all our legacy themes so that they adapt to any screen size. The header image, the menu and the layout are all responsive, and all our features work on smart phones and tablets. Our most recent themes are built with responsiveness in mind so your design and layouts will perfectly adapt to any device.
 
I love the site wide player it’s a great idea that many website don’t get working as well as could be. What are some other things that musicians might be overlooking that in your experience is important?

When you sell music through your Bandzoogle website, digital or physical, you keep 100% of your sales. Our cut is exactly 0%. That is pretty unique in this industry. Same if you sell merch, and recently we added a feature that lets you sell any digital file. So, you can sell lossless files, you can sell videos (live, instructional videos, stand-up comedy, etc.), you can sell sheet music, ebooks, stems for remixers, loops, anything. And you keep 100% of that revenue.

Otherwise, there’s so many features and small options that are there to make your life easier. Devil is in the details, and when I tell musicians that our events (calendar) feature has a drop-down option that lets you specify if the event is all-ages/18+/21+, they “get” how we are different from a generic website platform. And that’s just a small example.
 
One of the greatest features of Bandzoogle is the very active user forums. Can you tell us about that a bit?

Some of those people are pretty damn intense ;-) But seriously, it’s an amazing community to get first-hand feedback on your website, on your latest track, sell some used gear, find people to play gigs with, tell us your suggestions and requests for new options, etc. We also announce our new features there first, and get instant comments (good and bad) from our users, so it is very important to us.

The cool thing about that community is that our users come from all corners of the music world. So you’ll mingle with metal heads, hip hop producers, folk singer-songwriters, jazz sax players, Lynyrd Skynyrd cover bands, Christian gospel singers, EDM DJs, indie rock hipsters, etc. I love that.

What are some of the future advances you see for the Bandzoogle platform?

First thing, we’re almost done redesigning our own website. That’s overdue and our new lead designer is almost done making the best website ever.

We’ll have more integrations with other web tech providers and social media. We just launched an integration with Bandcamp. Instagram was added recently. SoundCloud is next on our list. Then we want to integrate Bandsintown and Songkick into our events feature. PledgeMusic for commerce, etc.

We’re going to launch a major update to our theme design tool, and to our control panel, where most of it will be WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”, meaning you’ll update your different features right on your website). This is actually a huge upgrade to how musicians will use Bandzoogle.

We also want to add major upgrades to our mailing list tool. More newsletter templates, more customization options, better geo-targeting, advanced analytics, that kind of stuff.

Oh… we also plan to make our platform multi-lingual, in order to start targeting Latin America and most of Europe. 
And, we are redesigning the Onesheet.com platform (which we acquired last year) and plan the relaunch it this year, as our first freemium product.

So yeah, we keep busy. But our jobs are about making cool sh*t for musicians, so we can’t complain. It’s pretty awesome.

 I’m really excited about all these new features. Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me.

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

How to Change the cord on your UE PRO IEMs

I thought I would write a little but use photos mostly. A picture speaks a thousand words and all that.

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I first hold the monitor firmly between my thumb and forefinger (as you can see in the photo I’m left handed) with a pinching motion I grab the connector with the right thumb and forefinger.

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Then, this will take a little getting used to, squeeze the connector and while pulling your hands apart. Don’t be afraid, the connectors are sturdy and it might take a little energy. And voila they are separated like below.

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In order to reconnect I line up the plug and socket first and then squeeze them back together like so.

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That’s it. As I say it will take a little getting used to, but you will get the hang of it in no time. If video is more your thing, check it out below. 

Changing the Cord on the UE PRO from Kenn Richards on Vimeo.

How to clean your UE Pro IEMs

Summer is the height of touring season. It’s hot out there and we know that putting in long hours wearing your IEMs means things may be getting a little sticky. It’s all good. Wax build up happens to all of us and cleaning your in ear monitors is an easy process that you can do quick at home or on the road. A quick clean after each use goes a long way to avoid potentially damaging build up that can affect the sound/balance of your monitors, much less chance you’ll have to send your UE PRO’s in for servicing.

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Here are a few tips for cleaning your ears after every use:

  • First rub down your in ears with wipes (Custom IEM Wipes can be purchased by calling us at 800-589-6531). Be sure to cover the ear canals so no liquid gets in. 
  • Carefully use the wax cleaning tool to remove debris. If you do not have your cleaning tool a dry tooth brush will work as well. Do Not use water while cleaning your ears.
  • When cleaning the canal, hold the IEM with the opening at the bottom so that wax particles fall out and away (downward from the monitor) instead of into the device.  
  • Use a dry toothbrush to scrub the outside of your monitors.
  • After using the IEMs, wipe them dry real quick before you put them away. Sweat and earwax are slightly acidic so it’s great to not trap that in the case with the IEMs between each use.

After cleaning your in-ears if you feel like you still haven’t gotten the job done, UE offers a deep cleaning service for $50.00. Just send them in and you’ll have them back in a jiffy Call 800-589-6531

Don’t let gunk funk up your monitors.

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

An interview with Tunecore CEO Scott Ackerman and Jamie Purpora, President TuneCore Publishing

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In April TuneCore announced it paid out $34.1 million to artists in the first quarter of this year.  The revenue was generated from nearly 1.3 billion downloads and streams, a 75% increase over the same period in 2013. That is a pretty impressive number given the sag in the music download market. 

Here’s a little background. TuneCore at it’s heart is a music distribution service that helps artists, labels and managers sell their music through iTunes, Amazon MP3, Spotify, Google Play, and other major download and streaming sites while retaining 100% of their sales revenue and rights for a low annual flat fee. The company has one of the highest artist revenue-generating music catalogs in the world, earning TuneCore Artists $405.6 million on 6.1 billion streams and downloads since inception. In 2014, TuneCore Music Distribution has added a new store every month, bringing artists access to over 80 of the most popular digital stores worldwide.

TuneCore also continues to expand its industry-leading Music Publishing Administration platform, helping all songwriters maximize their publishing royalties worldwide, including collecting income from their YouTube views. Additionally, the TuneCore Sync & Master Licensing Database and in-house creative team who work directly with music supervisors help Publishing clients to increase their revenue opportunities by securing licensing deals for TV, film and commercials.

We sat down with Scott Ackerman, CEO, and Jamie Purpora, who heads up Publishing Administration and chatted about the history of TuneCore, emerging markets, where they saw  new opportunities in the music business, and publishing and song placement. 



When did TuneCore start and what was the impetuous? [Scott] 
The advent of digital music and the explosion of the Internet in the early 2000s opened the floodgates for new technologies that create ways to get music from artists directly to consumers. Up until then, the music industry’s business model was based on selling vinyl and CDs to brick and mortar stores, and only artists with record label deals received any promotion. The music industry created barriers that prevented the majority of artists from getting their music distributed and heard by the general population.
 
TuneCore launched in 2006 to help revolutionize and democratize the music business. It was our goal to give any artist the ability to get his/her music heard and sold around the world without requiring a record label – and all for an affordable flat fee.
 
What is important to know is that from the very beginning, TuneCore made a decision not to take a penny from an artist’s sales. Every cent TuneCore artists earn from downloads and streams across iTunes and other digital stores they keep. This commitment still holds true today.

When did TuneCore Music Publishing Administration begin? Again what market forces shaped its origins? [Jamie]
After spearheading the democratization of distribution and building our platform through which artists could take on an entrepreneurial role for their own careers, it was clear to TuneCore that music publishing administration needed a similar paradigm shift. 
It was shocking how the music publishing business was still operating as if it were the 1980s, and digital hadn’t shaken up the way the whole industry works. When it came to royalties, the vast majority of songwriters were powerless. While royalties were being collected (because that’s the law), songwriters had zero ability to get their hands on the royalties. The pipeline to payment was only available to a select few – and at a high price. TuneCore was the perfect company with which to bring publishing administration into the digital age, and we made that a reality in late 2011.
We’ve built an integrated service, which is really the only one of its type. TuneCore took a very cumbersome, complicated and paper-intensive business model that limits songwriter participation, and we’ve not only simplified it, but we’ve opened it to ALL songwriters so they can register their compositions and collect what they’ve earned in 60+ countries.
TuneCore’s Music Publishing Administration services are available for any songwriter and we can manage any size catalogue. In keeping with TuneCore’s mission of helping artists to keep more of their revenue, our music publishing service is extremely affordable.

What are the advantages to Publishing with TuneCore Music Publishing Administration? Does it work seamlessly with ASCAP / BMI / SESAC? [Jamie]
We have a great relationship with performance rights organizations (PRO) in the US and abroad, and in fact, if you’re not signed up with a PRO when you become a Music Publishing client, we’ll help you get appropriately registered. Again, our priority is getting the songwriter everything that’s owed to them. As such, we work alongside the ASCAPs and BMIs of the world that are limited to only collecting “performance-related” royalties and we fill in the royalty gaps where those organizations don’t or are unable to collect and pay out royalties.

Does TC pursue sync placement for its artists? How do you go about that? [Jamie]
This is another area in which we are unique.  TuneCore is committed to driving revenue opportunities for songwriters who entrust us with the publishing administration of their compositions. Sync licensing is one of the most potentially lucrative opportunities we can help deliver. 
There are a few different ways TuneCore helps secure sync opportunities on behalf of our clients. First, we have the TuneCore Sync & Master Licensing Database that Music Supervisors can exclusively access in order to search for music to license for their projects.  We also have an in-house Licensing and Creative team who proactively pitch compositions to industry tastemakers. Since negotiating these deals is even more complicated than finding them, and several parties are frequently involved, TuneCore will represent the songwriter and his or her best interests throughout the process. This approach allows us to command higher fees for our clients. Plus, like we do for composition registration and royalty collection, TuneCore takes care of all the work. We call it DIFY: “do it for you.”

I see that TC is focusing on Global opportunities. Can you tell us a little more about that? [Scott]
We are passionate about music and strive to give more people more access to more music than at any time in history, and we’re motivated by the desire to help artists find more ways to realize their full potential and maximize the returns for their efforts. Building out publishing administration and seeking out sync deals are two ways we’re doing that. Another way is by growing our global distribution network.
There are some incredibly strong music markets outside of the US. Using iTunes downloads as a key indicator, there are several specific markets in which revenues for TuneCore Artists grew significantly from 2012 to 2013.
The South and Latin American markets are heating up, as indicated by the expansion by major digital music providers like iTunes, Deezer, Rdio, Sony Music Unlimited and Xbox Music into these areas. In Brazil alone, we saw 165% growth in artist revenue from 2012 to 2013.
Looking at Europe, which is a more mature market like the US, we saw a 20% increase in artists’ revenue in Germany from 2012-2013. This aligns with overall growth as reported by the German music industry association BVMI. 
Last but not least is Asia. As the middle class emerges and mobile takes hold across the region, the digital music market in the region will explode. We definitely intend to maximize opportunities for our artists there, as indicated by our recently-announced deal with KKBOX.
Besides giving artists more exposure in more markets, we’re offering country-specific platform services in some areas. TuneCore Japan and TuneCore Canada were established to facilitate distribution in those markets, since artists can use local currency. 

Your new artist earnings numbers are very, very exciting. It seems to show there is life in the music biz and maybe a new life and opportunities. How excited are you about the future? [Scott]
We are incredibly excited and see many reasons to be optimistic about the future.  Yes, there have been a lot of changes to the industry, but most of these changes are positive for the artists and songwriters without whom there would be no industry. 
Digital distribution isn’t a danger; it’s the driver of new opportunities. Whereas physical shelves could only handle a finite number of recordings and brick and mortar retailers generally stocked only the albums that were sure sellers for their market, we now have the possibility of near infinity. With the digital shelf, both the number of recordings and the size of the audience that can be reached are essentially limitless. TuneCore is very focused on creating and growing these types of opportunities for our artists. We’re dedicated to helping them be entrepreneurs in charge of their own careers and giving them more ways to grow a business around their music. The fact that our platform helps them break into new, high-growth markets and gives access to larger fan bases is reflected in the increases in payouts we’ve seen each quarter.

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Do you see growth in non-traditional digital markets? [Scott]
Absolutely – in both the sense of stores that aren’t necessarily top of mind to people in North America as well as in geographic markets that may not be thought of as huge music markets. That’s why TuneCore has worked so hard to expand opportunities for our artists in both respects. For example, in addition to iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, TuneCore offers distribution through more than 80 digital partners. Those partners represent access to audiences in over 200 countries and territories.
 
Our data demonstrates the increasing geographic diversity of where TuneCore Artists are distributing their music. And as we bring more of the most well-respected digital distribution partners in new regions into the TuneCore network, we are even more excited by the growth in opportunities we can provide. For example, we recently announced that TuneCore artists can now distribute their music through KKBOX, which is the leading subscription-based music service in Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and Malaysia. KKBOX has over 200 million subscribers and is recognized as a top driver of digital sales across Asia. It’s a huge opportunity and it’s only going to grow alongside the burgeoning middle class and penetration of smartphones.

Do you see that local artists are doing well in smaller exotic markets or is it a mix of Local and Global artists? [Scott]
TuneCore has democratized the music distribution business, essentially leveling the playing field for all of those who want to get their music out to the world. Whether you’re a “known artist” like Blood on the Dance Floor, Fleetwood Mac, Colt Ford, Florida Georgia Line or Boyce Avenue (just to name a few)  or you’re one of the thousands and thousands of artists who are playing venues in local or regional markets or even a hobbyist that’s in it for the love of creating music, you can distribute your music worldwide and take advantage of publishing administration services – something that was basically impossible before.
It’s thrilling for us to hear stories from artists of their success in markets they wouldn’t have expected. For example, Ron Pope is an artist from New York who, thanks to the reports he can access through TuneCore, learned that he’s huge on Spotify in the Nordic countries. He gets over a million streams in Sweden alone most months, and now spends more time touring in the region.  

Do you help artists find promotional opportunities in your new markets? [Jamie?]
We are always exploring new avenues through which we can drive success for our artists, anywhere in the world. On the publishing side, our sync licensing database is a resource used by music supervisors looking for songs to place in TV shows, films and commercials. It’s available worldwide and we’re here to help artists negotiate the optimal deal regardless of location. For example, we’ve secured license deals for TuneCore clients with Merrild Coffee and Samsung in Europe. Additionally, each time we build a relationship with a new partner, we work directly with them to maximize the promotional opportunities for our artists.  

What’s next for TuneCore? [Scott]
TuneCore is devoted to helping artists be entrepreneurs in charge of their own careers, and we are always working to develop new services and partnerships that will give them the ability to benefit from the complete spectrum of revenue opportunities.
We are constantly striving to innovate and ensure we’re an ideal partner at key points of the chain. We began with distribution, then added publishing and in the near future, we are well-positioned to create additional, valuable services. We are constantly evaluating what we can do to help artists be heard around the world while also enabling them to make more money. 

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

Power, Portability and Creativity - UERM & AK120 Pt. 2

In the previous installment, I talked about how the UERM and the AK120 became my new tools of choice for on-the-move mixing and referencing. These two products are a creative workhorse beyond my wildest expectations. I stumbled into using this setup while writing, and I might never go back. While mixing, I found that the soundstage was impeccable and that I loved the clarity of the individual mix elements when pairing the UERM with AK120. But this week, I would like to focus on something that I didn’t anticipate at all; something by which I was even more pleasantly surprised.

When I began using the combo at the start of the writing process, I was able to hear in the samples to be incorporated things that I never knew were there. I could hear overtones in my kick drums needlessly eating into the upper register, strings that were spread unnecessarily wide in the soundstage, guitars that were masking other instruments, and smearing up the stereo imaging. The list just goes on and on. And in working with samples, I soon discovered that, of the available libraries, many do a poor job of simply giving you just the information that you need. I’m not pointing fingers here, but more often than not there will be some kind of digital artifacting, or extra room tone, or, in the case of some drum sounds, impertinent instruments.

In the past, I think that, even if I could have heard these rogue sounds, I would have let them go. But, having somewhat recently read Mixerman’s Zen and the Art of Mixing, a favorite lesson relearned was about the creation of space in a mix for your instruments. I’ve been mixing music for a long time, so I am aware of the power of spatial imaging. But what I hadn’t thought of is how all of those rogue frequencies can eat up parts of that precious space. And getting a handle on these “roguencies” in the writing process has made the mixing process so much easier, especially when mixing my own projects.

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The ability, when writing, to get a solid handle on my sound placement  and  stereo imaging at the outset has saved me a lot of time when mixing (and some dough too!). Being able to set my panning reliably in my DAW when I am working on the bare bones of my tracks leaves great space for my collaborators and it makes my rough mixes sing like never before. This has too many benefits to list. But to bind it in a nutshell I say that, if you are going to be mixing projects yourself, you will have done a lot of the heavy lifting early. If you are making demos, your band mates/collaborators will be plenty happy as they will find more space in which to place their ideas. And if you plan to send your tracks out to another mixer, these roughs will be a great guide for them (and in my experience, something that will save you costs in studio time).

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

Power, Portability and Translation - UERM & AK120

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Power, portability and translation — the triumvirate of the modern producer / mixer. Power and portability are self-explanatory, translation means: am I confident that I am hearing an accurate representation of my project? And is what I am hearing going to translate to other sound systems?
 
Recently, I was forced to do the lion’s share of my audio production in a open-plan office which meant that I had to work in headphones most of the time. While it had some disadvantages, it forced me to think about how to construct the ideal portable production rig. Working in headphones had many pit falls — from the sonic curves to a different stereo field that one would experience with near or middle field monitors. 
 
The first few month of this work was grueling. I encountered a lot of bumps in the road. Problems from ear fatigue to poor mix translations were common stumbling blocks.  But when I started using the UE Reference Monitors, everything changed.
 
Before the UE-RM’s, I was using a well-known set that was very high-end “audiophile / Studio Quality” grade. Despite all assurances that I would be able to produce without a worry about sound translations and that these headphones were designed for production work, they weren’t and my mixes proved it. I did my best to mix to the sound of my headphones.  Incrediblywhen I listened to my projects in other listening environments my mixes actually sounded just like the headphones. That was a bad thing; my mixes were boxy and lifeless.
 
When I moved on to using the UE-RM’s, my mixes, to my amazement, continued to sound like the phones I was working in — but now this was a VERY good thing. The RM’s sound translated incredibly well to every playback system I tried.
 
My ears suffered much less fatigued than before and my clients were very happy. But this got me thinking, how could this party get even better? I started to realize that my elusive dream of a truly accurate mobile production stadium — as I was mostly looking at creating an editing / mixing set up — was within reach.  
 
I needed to sort out the interface question.  There are a lot of portable audio interfaces out there. But most of the time for mixing / editing I don’t need multiple outputs or any inputs. I just need accurate sound. All I really needed was a stereo mix.  It turns out that the DAC is also really key. 

A  good digital-to-analog converter (or DAC) can make all the difference when listening to music, especially through headphones. The DAC is what converts the Zeros and Ones of digital audio into sounds you can hear. They can be found everywhere from your phone to your laptop. It’s also the driving force behind your sound card. Most DAC are get the job done for sure.  What makes the AK 120 special is that it’s powered by dual Wolfson 8740 DAC. The dual-mono set up completely separates and isolates the left and right audio channels. The the AK120 delivers a  exceptional dynamic range and wider soundstage. This means you can a more accurate representation of your producton, making translation much less of a challange. 

The interface conundrum continued to elude me until I eventually tried the Astell & Kern AK120 for a different project as a playback device.  I used it as a DAC for my computer. It never occurred to me to try that. When you attach the AK120 to the usb port of your computer it allows you to bypass the internal DAC on your computer and use the 120’s instead. The sound difference is remarkable and it totally eliminated the need to carry a more bulky interface.
 


When I started using the AK120 like this my workflow improved dramatically. The soundstage was impeccable and I loved the clarity of the individual mix elements. I felt I was getting better sounds then I did in most of the rooms I was trying to mix in — and of course, the rooms were never specially constructed for that purpose. It was revelatory.  Now was I not only listening to incredibly accurate sonic representations of my work, but talk about portable! The AK120 is smaller than my phone. 
 
The UE-RM’s and AK120 are my mobile production weapons of choice. Next week I’ll talk about how they are becoming my creative weapons of choice as well. 

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Kenn is an accomplished musician, DJ, producer, music consultant and audio engineer with more than twenty years of experience. Recently he has worked creating compelling audio ads for music-based audiences and pioneering new technologies including 3D Audio. He has also worked as an audio engineer for leading studios in New York and the UK, recording and remixing dozens of artists including Razorlight, The Dandy Warhols, The Rapture and The Charlatans. A musician in his own right, Kenn has recorded albums for Elektra Records and Mute Records as both a solo artist and with the band Research.

UE University is committed to showcasing monthly interviews with prominent audio technicians and hearing health care professionals. Read these ongoing articles and learn tips and tricks from the pros. If there is an engineer that you want to read about, let us know. Drop us a line: krichards@ultimateears.com

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